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Validation & Praise

Growing up with abusive parents is a truly horrific experience.  The abuse takes a deep root inside of you & does a tremendous amount of damage.  One common way that damage manifests is the need for validation from other people.  If you think this doesn’t describe you, then please read on anyway.  You just might learn something about yourself.

External validation is great.  It’s always nice when other people praise you or say that something that was done to you was wrong.  However, adult children of abusive parents often take the desire for such things to an extreme.  It is quite clear that is what is happening when a person displays certain behaviors.

Someone who drops hints about something good they have done or a good quality they have may be seeking external validation.  The praise that other people give them in such situations is very welcomed since it tells this person that they really are OK, good, smart, attractive, valuable, etc.

Similarly, exaggerating a person’s good deeds or qualities is another cry for external validation.  As the saying goes, you don’t see commercials for Rolls Royce cars because they know their worth & value.  They don’t need to convince others they are great.  Anyone who feels they must magnify their good qualities is doing so in the hopes of gaining praise & external validation.

Excessive posting on social media can be a sign of someone looking for external validation.  Someone who shares a lot about their life on social media may be seeking “likes” & positive comments as a way to gain some external validation.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying a person who mentions something positive they have done, a positive quality they have or who shares on social media is completely dysfunctional.  Not at all!  I’m simply saying these things when done in excess can be a sign of someone who is seeking external validation & that is unhealthy.

External validation is great, but it truly shouldn’t be extremely, over the top important to anyone.  If it is, this is a sign of something wrong, such as low self esteem or envy.  It also can be a sign of a personality disorder.  Narcissists clearly take this to an extreme since they demand approval & praise from others, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder may also seek external validation frequently.

Being hyper-focused on external validation can be truly disruptive to a person’s life.  It can damage or ruin relationships with its neediness.  Even the most patient people get tired of feeling as if they constantly must reassure someone at some point. 

If you feel a strong need for external validation, you can fix this problem!  I know, because I once felt that need but no longer do.  I hope what I did helps you too!

The first step for me was to turn to God.  I asked Him for help, to show me what I needed to do to be healthier & to help me understand who He says I am.  I also studied what the Bible says about believers.  There are a lot of Scriptures about what God thinks of His children!  It’s very eye opening!

I watched my behavior, too.  If I realized I was starting to seek validation from other people, I stopped myself.  I asked myself why I felt this was necessary.  I also asked myself why I felt I needed the approval of this particular person.  If that person was dysfunctional, I realized that their approval truly wasn’t important.  They naturally would only praise dysfunctional behaviors so why would I want their validation?!  I also realized that those who are functional won’t make me feel I have to beg for validation.  They offer it freely.

Rather than turning to people for validation, I turned inward.  I acknowledged my feelings & thoughts.  If I felt that I did something well, I praised myself.  If I recognized something I’ve been through was wrong or bad, I told myself that.  My validation became good enough for me.  That took some time but it did happen & was well worth the wait!

I hope if you are seeking external validation in excess, you can change your ways.  People are fallible human beings, which means they will fail you sometimes.  Constantly looking to them for validation is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Instead, turning to God for it & learning to validate yourself will be much more fulfilling for you!

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

Life isn’t easy for adults who were abused by their parents.  The judgment of other people, often those who don’t know much if anything about the situation can be particularly painful.

Society as a whole says things like blood is thicker than water, forgive & forget, you only get one mother or father, they tried their best, & other such drivel.  Basically, this makes victims feel like holding their abusive parents accountable for their behavior is unfairly blaming them.  This is so wrong!

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

Blame assigns responsibility for something done.  It is very critical & basically, the exact opposite of praise.  Blame is accusatory, & unwilling to listen to or consider anything other than the perception of the person doing the blaming.  It also implies shame, saying someone who did something is intrinsically bad.  Consider how narcissists speak as an example.  They blame others for making them act badly, for upsetting them & pretty much anything.  It also puts the person doing the blaming in a superior position, even if only in their mind.  Suddenly they become “good” & the other person becomes “bad.”

Holding someone accountable is different.  It states responsibility without the shame factor that is implied in blame.  It also means that you are responsible for your actions & you also are liable for them.  The person being held accountable is responsible for their actions, & can give satisfactory reasons for them.  Both people in this equation are equal, no one is “good or bad,” “superior or inferior”, unlike when blame is present.

I have spoken with a LOT of victims of child abuse as well as being one myself, which has taught me a tremendous amount about how adult victims of child abuse think.  One constant I have noticed is the lack of blame most victims have for their parents.  They don’t hate them, or feel superior to them somehow.  They would like to know why their parents treated them as they did. 

They also grew up believing that they were responsible for their parents somehow.  Abusive parents, in particular narcissistic ones, often engage in parentalizing behaviors, expecting their children to care for their needs instead of them caring for their children’s needs.  Or, the abusive parents looked to their children to fix some problems in their lives, such as their failing marriage.  These abusive behaviors led these children to feel as if they were betraying their parents if they blamed them for anything.  They excused the abuse or assumed responsibility for it themselves.

Once these children grew up & recognized their parents were abusive, they often still have trouble blaming their parents.  Instead, they hold their parents accountable, which is much more rational than blame anyway. 

Holding one’s abusive parents accountable for the abuse is perfectly reasonable.  It allows someone to have empathy for the struggles the abusive parent had that fueled their abusive ways while also allows this person to realize that setting boundaries or even removing such a parent from their life is sensible & reasonable.  This is what I did with my parents.  I recognized their dysfunction & why they were as they were.  My heart went out to them but since they weren’t willing to change their toxic ways, I had to set boundaries to protect my mental health. 

Narcissists clearly don’t handle blame or even holding them accountable well, in particular when this comes from their child, but their response isn’t your responsibility.  By holding them accountable in a reasonable way rather than angrily blaming them, any emotional reaction they have is their responsibility, not yours. 

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Why Narcissists Feel They Must Know All About Their Victims After The Relationship Is Over

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How To Respond To Criticism About Being Estranged From Abusive Parents

Estrangement from abusive parents when initiated by the adult child comes with a great deal of torment.  Many people have no problems adding shame to that adult child’s torment whether or not they know the adult child, the parent or anything about the situation.  They share a lot of really ludicrous comments very freely.  My goal today is to offer some responses adult children in these situations may use when exposed to these popular & heartless comments.

“You just need to get over the past & move on.”  It is perfectly reasonable to point out to the person who says that that you don’t just get over trauma & abuse.  You can do all of the right things to help yourself but chances of complete recovery from an abusive & traumatic childhood are virtually non existent in this lifetime. If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, your chances are even slimmer because the trauma physically broke your brain.  Trauma in your past won’t let you go.

“You only get one mother or father!”  Yep.  That’s how that works.  Everyone gets one mother & one father.  So what is the point?  They only got one of you, so why not tell this person to remind your parents of that & tell them to treat you like a human being?

“Nobody’s perfect.”  That is true.  But, there is a huge difference between mistakes made & being deliberately hurtful to your own child.  Knowing your own parent did things to traumatize & hurt you on purpose is devastating, especially when that parent refuses to change their behavior even knowing how much pain they cause.  Why tolerate being treated badly by anyone, let alone someone who thoroughly enjoys inflicting pain?

“He or she had a bad childhood.  He or she doesn’t know how to be a good parent.”  Someone who was abused as a child may not know exactly what a good parent should do, but they absolutely know what not to do.  When they do things that were done to them knowing exactly how it makes a child feel, that is proof they aren’t simply damaged.  They are cruel & wicked.  How does it make sense to tolerate that treatment?

“You need to figure out how to make this relationship work!”  No.  Just no.  When most adult children are at the point of severing ties with their parents, they have tried for a long time to make the relationship work.  Eventually they realized nothing they did could fix it, because to fix a damaged relationship, both parties must work together.  When only one person tries, the relationship is doomed.  Either the one trying will stop trying & tolerate any abuse from the other person, or that one will end the relationship.

“What if your parent died tomorrow?  You’d regret this!”  Possibly the ultimate in guilt trip, shaming & disapproval comments said by a person pretending to care & be helpful.  It isn’t helpful or caring, & is a cruel thing to say.  Anyone who thinks someone who has severed ties with their parents hasn’t realized this is a possibility is an idiot.  Also, children die before their parents sometimes.  Why isn’t it ok to remind abusive parents of this & tell them they should treat their children better?

“You’re not honoring your parents!”  One of my least favorite comments because it twists Scripture around into something completely ungodly!  To honor someone means to pay them respect due to their position & to want what is best for them.  There is nothing good or holy about tolerating abuse & allowing someone to continue to engage in sinful behavior.  Where is any honor in that?

I hope I have helped you to have some comments at the ready when people say these awful things to you.  I wish you the best when these situations arise!

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When One Parent Is Abusive & The Other A Bystander

So many times over the years, I’ve gotten comments on my blog or by email from people who recognize they had an abusive parent.  They discuss how cruel that parent was, often explaining terrible tales of brutality that no child should have to face.  At some point, they mention their other parent.  From their description, you would think that parent borders on sainthood.  They say things like, “Mom knew Dad was a monster, but she gave me pointers on how to stay out of his way & not make him angry.”  “Dad was such a good guy.  He wouldn’t see the bad in anyone, even Mom.  He dealt with things by telling me that’s just how Mom is, she can’t help it, & encouraged me to forgive & forget what she did to me.”

Stories like this just break my heart.  These people truly believe what they say, & don’t realize that a passive parent is just as bad as an abusive parent.  Long ago, I was one of these people.

My mother was an overt narcissist.  Her abuse was undeniable.  It was loud, obvious & cruel, especially when I was in my late teen years.  I cried on my father’s shoulder about it many times.  The majority of those times, he turned the situation around to how painful it was for him & how helpless he was to stop the abuse.  Those times ended with me trying to comfort him.  Other times, he simply didn’t care.  I remember one time he gave me a pat on the knee & walked off.  He didn’t say anything but his attitude was one of “Wow.. glad I’m not you!”

For years, I thought this behavior was ok.  Normal even.  He was a great guy, & simply a victim of my mother like me, which is why he couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) help me.  In fact, I felt it was my duty to care for & protect him.  Yes, I am serious.  I honestly believed that it was my duty, as his child, to take care of & protect my father while not expecting him to care for & protect me.  Disturbing, isn’t it?

Sadly, many other adult children with abusive parents grew up believing the same things I did, which explains the many comments I’ve heard from adults who believe the same faulty way I once did.

The problem is this thinking is incredibly dysfunctional.  It’s not facing the truth, & the truth really will set us free!

Believing that one parent is good while the other abusive in these situations creates distrust & confusion about love & loyalty in children.  They think love & loyalty involve sacrificing not only your identity & beliefs, but even your children if need be.  If you’re unwilling to do that, you must not love that person.  This sets the stage for very dysfunctional & even abusive relationships in that child’s life. 

It also makes a child question themselves.  It’s normal for that child to grow up excessively angry at the overtly abusive parent because they simply don’t have the courage to be angry with the passively abusive parent.  One day when they realize this, they wonder what is wrong with them for not being able to accept both parents were abusive.

This type of thinking also happens a lot with people who can accept that their fathers were abusive, but not their mothers.  Admitting a father is abusive is easier than a mother.  Many mothers in such situations play up the appearance of being helpless victims who need their children to protect & coddle them.  Their children get so caught up in taking care of them, they seem to forget that it isn’t their job.  It’s their mother’s job to protect & care for them instead.

The first step to healthier thinking is to recognize both the good & bad aspects of both of your parents.  Writing these things out may be especially beneficial since written words have the ability to bring clarity that the spoken word often lacks.  Seeing your parents realistically is a healthy thing to do, & sets the stage for your healing.  This isn’t “wallowing in the past” or “blaming parents for everything.”  It is a legitimate & healthy step to take towards healing.

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Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

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Big Sale On My Print Books! 20% Off!

My publisher is offering a sale- 20% off all of my print books! Simply use code SNEAKPEEK20 at checkout. This code is valid until November 4, 2022.

My print books can be found at the following link:

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For Those Who Blindly Support Parents Whose Children Severed Ties With Them

Severing ties with one’s parents is becoming a more common activity.  Sadly, many people abuse do this because of very valid reasons such as their parents are abusive.  Even more sadly though is it seems the parents in these situations get so much more love & support than their children.

Abusive parents in these situations are often very loud with their feelings, anger, lies, justifications but not the truth.  The closest they come to the truth is stating half truths, such as their child severing ties with them.  They fail to share the reasons why their adult child severed ties, only that they did.  That half truth combined with their lies & false accusations mean people listen to them & support them, often blindly.  They pity these poor people who are now getting older, & their own children won’t even help them out.  How selfish & entitled their adult children are, they say.

These same devoted supporters offer not one iota of concern or care for the adult children in these situations.  In a way that makes sense since they believe that the adult children in question are such horrid people as to abandon their own parents for no reason whatsoever.  It makes you wonder if these people have any desire to know the truth about what really has happened.

I want to ask these devoted supporters some questions today.

Did it ever occur to you that there are other sides to this story beyond the side you heard from the abandoned parent?  You have heard ONE side to this story only.  Why is that acceptable to you? 

Do you realize that abusive people create a false persona that they show to other people & only their victims see their abusive, evil side?  It’s true.  Look at well known serial killers.  Ted Bundy was described as charming, Jeffrey Dahmer as quiet & John Wayne Gacy as a pillar of the community. 

Did you ever take two seconds to question why any child, no matter their age, would abandon their parent?  While it’s true, some people abandon people in their lives for no valid reason, they are in the vast minority.  The majority of people have valid reasons for ending relationships, in particular those closest to them.

Did it ever occur to you that someone ending a relationship, in particular such a close one as the parent/child relationship, almost never does so on a whim?  When people end relationships of any sort, thought goes into it.  The closer the relationship, the more thought is going to go into ending that relationship.  The adult child who goes no contact with a parent may have done so in a way that appears sudden, but rest assured, PLENTY of thought went into that action prior to following through with it.  Sometimes what triggers no contact isn’t the worst act the abusive parent has done.  Instead, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

If the parent in this situation is so upset about their child “abandoning” them, why did they not treat that child better in the first place in the hopes of preventing this from happening one day?

Do you realize that no contact is different than the silent treatment?  Someone who gives the silent treatment will speak to that person they swore never to speak to again, then stop speaking to them, then start speaking to them, & stop, & the cycle repeats.  No contact is as its name states – no contact.  When someone truly goes no contact, they block all access to someone & refuse to interact with them on a permanent basis.  This is done to protect themselves.  The silent treatment is so wishy washy because it is all about manipulation.  It is done to punish someone, & when they have begged & pleaded enough, they will be allowed to return to the person’s life until their next transgression.  If you look at the person’s behavior that has stopped speaking to their parent, you can tell the difference very easily.  No contact is a healthy & even Godly option, unlike the silent treatment.

Where is your concern for real victims?  Do you have any?  It would do you well to spent less time trying to shame victims into returning to an abusive situation & more time showing them compassion & love.

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One Way Evil Manifests In People

When people hear the word evil, all kinds of things come to mind.  Serial killers, psychopaths, monsters with glowing red eyes & of course the devil himself.  What people usually don’t think of when they hear the word evil is those people who portray themselves as good, caring, generous & often a bit naïve, yet who always have something snide to say to or about other people while maintaining their good appearance somehow.  I’m referring to covert narcissists.  In my opinion, people like this are among the most evil people of all.

Covert narcissists are masters at appearing to be good while they are truly nothing but pure evil.  They are manipulative but claim they are just trying to help.  They cause pain while claiming they didn’t know what they said or did would hurt the person they hurt.  They gossip & spread lies under the guise of being concerned about someone.  Whatever happens to them was never their fault.  They are the perpetual victims of the world who don’t deserve anything bad that happens to them.

Elderly narcissists are especially good at behaving in this manner.  It’s human nature to want to care for those weaker than us, & they exploit that as much as they possibly can.  Many will fake, exaggerate or even lie about an illness if it will get them attention or punish someone, usually their adult children, who they perceive has done them wrong somehow.  They demand their adult children’s time even when it’s unnecessary & their adult children have other more important responsibilities.

Flying monkeys to me are the worst of the worst of covert narcissists, second only to elderly ones.  Flying monkeys often claim they are just trying to help or be supportive, yet these contemptible fiends are actually enjoying hurting the victim.  Either they get a thrill from abusing the victim on behalf of the narcissist or from spying on the victim & reporting what they learn to the narcissist.  I have a couple of them who spy on me, & very few things in life disgust me as much as these people.

These vile monsters leave a path of destruction in their wake that isn’t obvious to most people, many times including their victims.  They don’t scream, rage or hit their victims.  Instead, they quietly manipulate & disparage their victims with no other witnesses.  This even happens when multiple people live in the same house.  They carefully maintain their fake image of being a good person to everyone but their victim, so when their victim tells others about the covert narcissist, no one believes the them.  In fact, often they defend this monster & their horrible behavior.  This allows the covert narcissist to continue abusing their victims quietly, & often the victim tolerates it because they think something is wrong with them for being upset by the narcissist’s behavior.  Covert narcissists are absolutely disgusting, despicable & vile human beings.

I’m sure by now you think I’m angry about them, & you would be absolutely correct.  Covert narcissists infuriate me with their “Poor pitiful me!  I’m always the victim!  I need people to coddle me!” act.  I have dealt with more of them than I care to admit in my family, my husband’s family, former friends & even my ex husband.  The more stories I hear similar to mine, the more disgusted & more angered I am by these people. 

Many people think that since I am open about being a Christian, I’m wrong for feeling this way.  I should forgive them & love them.  I’ve been called out on my supposed “anger issues” & “ungoldly behavior” on this topic.  They are wrong, though.  Romans 12:9 in the Amplified translation of the Bible says, “Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good.”  The behavior of covert narcissists is absolutely evil!  Don’t think so?  Then consider John 10:10.  In the first half of the verse, Jesus discusses the devil.  He says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy…”  That is exactly what covert narcissists do!  They steal, kill & destroy anything they want from their victims, usually their time, peace, reputation, mental & sometimes physical health, self esteem, joy & often their will to live.

Anyone reading this today, please know that I mean every single word I’ve said here.  Covert narcissists are pure evil.  They easily can ruin your life & relationships.  They love causing misery & pain while somehow managing to look magnanimous.  Never underestimate them, as it’s never wise to underestimate an enemy.  Protect yourself from them.  Stay away from them whenever possible.  If you must deal with them, never do so alone, because they will use that alone time to victimize you & no one will believe you about that.

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Why Children Of Narcissists Find Themselves In Many Toxic Relationships

Many people who were raised by narcissistic parents find themselves in other relationships with narcissists.  They work with them, they become friends with them & worst of all, they become romantically involved with them.  I am no exception.  I grew up with an overtly narcissistic mother & covertly narcissistic father.  There are a lot of narcissists in my family on both sides.  I married a covert narcissist that I divorced six years later.  I have lost count of how many covertly narcissistic friends I have had over my lifetime.

For a long time I wondered why this happened to me.  I thought maybe somehow I put out some sort of “vibe” that told people it was ok to abuse me.  Or, maybe narcissists just have some sort of sense for people that make good victims.  I think I have some ideas though & I hope they can help answer this question for you.

For those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents, we were born with a job.  That job was to take care of our narcissistic parents.  For some, it meant doing household chores well before an appropriate age such as cooking dinner or caring for younger siblings.  For others, it meant being a parent’s therapist of sort, listening to all of their woes, & comforting them when they were upset.  For still others, it meant protecting a covertly narcissistic parent from the rages & even physical assaults of the overtly narcissistic parent.  Whatever the scenario, the fact is being born with the job of caring for a narcissistic parent means you are used to caring for dysfunctional people.  This makes you gravitate to continuing that role in other relationships. 

This role often means getting into relationships with other narcissists.  If there is a narcissist in your vicinity, you will be drawn to that person like bees to honey.  You may feel sorry for this person because he or she has few or even no friends.  After some time passes, you see why that person had no friends!  Who wants to be friends with a narcissist?! 

Or this role could mean that you get involved with another child of narcissistic parents that isn’t facing that pain.  Maybe you fall in love with someone who seems great.  You’re comfortable together, & get along great.  They might even tell you they have this awesome family & can’t wait for you to meet them.  Then you meet his or her family & see the truth.  That awesome family is anything but.  There are narcissists everywhere!  If you say anything about the toxicity of this family, you are told you’re wrong, oversensitive, & more.  They are defended fiercely & you are left wondering how to help this person you love see the truth. 

If you have been in such situations, I know it can be frustrating.  Once you realize that you keep getting into dysfunctional relationships, you probably are going to beat yourself up a lot & question what is wrong with you.  That is normal!  It also is a waste of time & energy.  Instead, try to focus on healing from the abuse.  Healing naturally helps you to develop healthier boundaries, so when you meet someone without friends, you won’t try to befriend them immediately.  The more you heal too, the more healthy people will seem attractive to you & the more you’ll want to avoid the toxic ones.  As a bonus, the healthier you become, the more toxic people will leave you alone.  Toxic people want someone dysfunctional because that is someone they can use & manipulate.  Healthy people don’t tolerate such things.

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Highly Functional Versus Highly Dysfunctional

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You Are Not Responsible For How People Feel About You

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Subtle Signs Of Dysfunctional, Abusive Families

No family is perfect, but some families are less perfect than others.  Many of those “less perfect” families are downright dysfunctional & even abusive.  Today I’m sharing signs of the dysfunctional & abusive family.

Parentification is a big indicator of a dysfunctional & abusive family situation.  This is when the parent & child roles are reversed, & the child is supposed to care for the parent.  Children in this position are supposed to do things no child should have to do, such as being their parent’s emotional caregiver including such inappropriate things as listening to their parent’s woes about their marital problems or sex life, nurse them back to health after a hangover or overdose, or even care for younger siblings as a parent should do.  Parentified children are often described as growing up so fast because their role has forced them to behave as adults rather than allowing them to be children.  They also lack healthy boundaries, tolerate one sided relationships & continue to keep their parents as their top priority over their spouse, children & even themselves.  When they are growing up, people on the outside often think these children & their parents are close, & praise this relationship.  This leads the child to feel confused & even ashamed that they are unhappy with this role.

Unmet needs are another sign of a dysfunctional, abusive family situation.  Children have a lot of needs that go beyond the basic food, clothing & shelter such as nurturing, teaching & caring for their emotional health.  Many abusive parents meet those basic needs, yet neglect those other important needs.  Children who grow up this way have trouble with being inappropriately clingy in relationships & overly dependent or they go the opposite way & become very cold & aloof.  Either way causes problems in their relationships.

Unrealistic expectations definitely point to a dysfunctional & abusive family.  Some parents hold their children to higher standards than adults.  Those children are never allowed to be in a bad mood or fail a test, yet their parents are allowed to yell or even hit the child just because they had a bad day at work or someone cut them off in traffic.  This puts incredible stress on the child who feels they must be perfect as a way to earn their parent’s love.

Parents who often fight in front of their child are creating a very dysfunctional & abusive situation.  I grew up this way, & can tell you from experience it is a horrible way to grow up!  I felt so insecure when my parents fought & also like I should do something to help them stop fighting.  This is so typical of how children in this situation feel.  It leads to these children feeling intense anxiety at any hint of conflict & also feeling overly responsible for the other people in their lives, as if they must take care of those people.

People who grow up in such environments grow into dysfunctional adults with a lot of relationship troubles.  They may become controlling people who will do anything or hurt anyone they deem necessary to avoid further pain.  More commonly though, they also may go the exact opposite way & become extremely submissive.  They become people pleasers who will do anything for anyone even at the expense of themselves. 

If any of this describes you, please remember some things.

You are only responsible for yourself.  You are not responsible for meeting the needs of other people.  Yes, you can help them, but doing so to the extent of harming yourself is dysfunctional. 

There is nothing wrong or bad about caring for yourself & having reasonable boundaries.  You need to take care of yourself just as much as & even more than you are willing to do for other people.

Family shouldn’t demand all of your time, energy, finances, etc.

Healthy relationships are a two way street.  Toxic relationships are not.  They take while giving nothing or almost nothing back.

Love should be unconditional, never conditional.  In other words, someone should love you based on who you are, not what you do for them.  Conditional love is one of the hallmarks of abusers.

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Feeling Burdened By Others After Growing Up With An Emotionally Incestuous/Enmeshed/Parentalizing Parent

Growing up with a parent who treats you more as their romantic partner rather than their child is extremely traumatic.  It is referred to as emotional incest, enmeshment, covert incest, parentalizing & parentification, & it’s a form of sexual abuse whether or not sexual contact is a part of this abuse.  It creates a LOT of serious problems in the lives of victims.  Today, we will focus on only one of those problems – feeling burdened by other people.

The person who grows up with an emotionally incestuous parent has spent their entire life focused on their parent.  Their parent is their top priority in childhood, & even into adulthood until they recognize this is a problem.  They listen to their parent’s woes (in particular about their marriage or relationship), they try to cheer them up when they are sad, fix their problems, protect them if the other parent is abusive, & basically anything else their parent wants them to do no matter the personal cost.  After a lifetime of this dysfunctional caregiving, it is natural to feel burned out on doing for other people.  The problem is that natural or not, it is damaging to other relationships.

No one wants to be in a relationship with another person that is totally one sided.  Whatever type of relationship this is, whether it is romantic, family or friendship, this type of relationship is miserable & dysfunctional.  Doing with receiving nothing in return is fine once in a while, but when it is the norm, it is depressing, will lead to a lot of resentment & most likely the relationship will end.

Similarly, no one wants to be married to someone knowing that their parent always will be more important to them, that the demanding parent’s needs always come first, that they are looked at as an intruder & feeling like anything they want from their spouse is a huge burden while anything the parent wants is done without complaint.  It is a miserable way to live, & the majority of people will divorce a spouse like this.

If you are a victim of emotional incest, please know that by continuing to tolerate this abuse from your parent, this is what you are doing to those people in relationships with you.  I am not telling you this to hurt you, only to open your eyes of the damage being done & the unfairness of it all.  People who love you don’t deserve to feel this way.  It’s not fair to them.  It also is not fair to you for your parent to treat you so badly & for that parent to do so much harm to you that you are damaging relationships with people you love. 

And, if you are still in this situation with your parent, please do your best to put an end to it.  Start setting limits & boundaries on what you will & won’t tolerate from your parent.  It can be intimidating to do this at first so start small.  Don’t take their call or reply to their text right away.  It’s a baby step that helps you to take back some of your power.  Do more & bigger things as you feel able to do them.  It may take some time, but you will become able to stop tolerating their behavior.  The more you do this, the less burdened you will feel in general, which means the more you will be able to give back in your relationships.

Get to know yourself better.  Chances are, you didn’t have much time for that because caring for your parent took up too much of your time.  It’s long overdue.  Get to know the real you, not the person your parent wants you to be.  It’ll help you in many ways, including learning what you are willing & unwilling to tolerate in the relationship with your parent.

Get angry about what your parent has done to you.  You have every reason to be angry, because treating anyone this way is simply cruel & wrong!  You never deserved it!  Allow yourself to feel that anger & vent it in healthy ways like prayer, talking to someone close to you, journaling, or even talking to a therapist.

And never forget that you do have one loving parent.  God is the most loving parent you could hope to have.  Talk to Him about what is going on.  Lean on him to help you heal, figure out the best way to handle this relationship with your abusive parent, & to help heal damaged relationships.  He absolutely will do it.

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People Who Believe Their Opinions Are The Only Right Ones

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When A Toxic Relationship Shifts

In various relationships with the narcissists in my life, I remember a shift in their attitude with me.  It was always subtle, but I noticed it anyway.

My ex husband & I started dating during the second semester of eleventh grade.  By the end of the first semester of twelfth grade, he had become a bit distant.  We wrote notes often as many kids in the 80’s did, & suddenly his went from at least one or two a day to one every few days before suddenly stopping entirely.

Later in life, when I began pulling away from my parents & setting some boundaries, their attitudes became different.  My mother was obviously furious with me, but didn’t admit to it.  My father became controlling for the first time. 

I met my late mother in-law some months before my husband & I began dating, when we were just friends.  One day I was going to drive him to pick up a car he was buying.  I picked him up at his parents’ home, & although I could tell his mother didn’t particularly like me, she seemed somewhat friendly.  Once she realized we were dating, she became ice cold.  After we got married almost 4 years later, she became extremely vicious with me.

This sort of behavior is very common with narcissists.  No matter the type of relationship, at some point, there is a change in their attitude with the victim.  That change often comes about when the narcissist realizes the victim doesn’t want to lose the narcissist.  It also can happen when the victim starts to set boundaries or the narcissist sees the victim as a threat in some way.  Either way, narcissists want to make sure their victim behaves as they want.  What better way to do this than to abuse that victim?  They may make their victim feel so insecure, as if the relationship is bad & it’s all the victim’s fault.  They also may become controlling & manipulative, trying to make the victim feel as if they need to earn the narcissist’s affections.  They may make the victim feel as if it’s best to do whatever the narcissist wants rather than displease the narcissist & face their wrath.  The type of wrath naturally varies between overt & covert narcissists, but in either case it’s best not to face it, so many victims will do absolutely anything to avoid it.

The really horrible part of this is while this abuse happens behind closed doors, the narcissist continues to wear their mask to convince everyone else they are a wonderful person.  When a victim looks for advice & support, those who also know the narcissist often tell the victim how lucky they are to have such a wonderful person in their life.  That person loves the victim so much!  It must be nice having someone so loving in their life.  They’re lucky to have a parent or significant other care so much about them.  Such responses can leave a victim baffled & feeling as if they are the problem in the relationship. 

The result is the victim often stays in the relationship.  The victim feels utterly alone because no one believes them.  They believe the narcissist’s good guy/good girl act instead.  Victims learn quickly there isn’t any point in discussing the abuse because no one believes them.  Meanwhile, the abuse gets worse & worse.

Have you been in this situation?  Are you in it now?  If so, you’re not alone!  This is typical of relationships with narcissists. 

Don’t beat yourself up for getting yourself into this situation or tolerating too much from the narcissist.  Narcissists are experts at psychological warfare.  They can manipulate even the most brilliant of people because they are just that good at what they do. 

You also need to pray a lot.  God willingly gives wisdom to anyone who asks for it according to James 1:5, so ask for it!  He can help you to cope if you’re still in the situation or find ways to help yourself heal if you have escaped it.

Always remember that the treatment from the narcissist isn’t your fault.  Their actions are 100% their responsibility.  Don’t accept the blame for their behavior.  Don’t carry their shame for their actions.  Learn all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, healing from narcissistic abuse & about how to have healthy boundaries.  Take care of & protect yourself.

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Childhood Wounds That Can Affect People Into Adulthood

Childhood experiences help to form us into the adults we become.  Those of us with traumatic childhoods naturally turn into dysfunctional adults.  Hopefully we realize this & want to become more functional & healthy.  Sometimes though we aren’t sure where to start.  I firmly believe that getting to the root of things is best.  If you garden, you know that you can spray a weed with poison & it will vanish for a while, but it’ll come back again.  However, if you pull it up by the roots, it’ll never return.  Healing is the same way, which is why I tell people that getting to the root of issues is so important.

Relating to healing, I mean you need to look at what is causing the problem, not just the problem itself.  If something makes you angry when you remember it, for example, why does it make you angry?  Did you not feel heard?  Did you feel unloved, neglected or invalidated?  Recognizing your anger is only part of the process.  Once you identify how the event made you feel, you can truly start to heal.

Certain childhood wounds cause certain behaviors, which is what we’re discussing today. 

A childhood abandonment wound happens when a parent isn’t there for their child either physically such as if the parent dies or the parents divorce, but also happens if the parent isn’t there emotionally such as in the case of narcissistic parents.  The abandonment wound manifests as someone who hates to be alone, who is afraid of loved ones leaving them, & may be codependent. People who are emotionally unavailable or out of touch with their feelings are very attracted to those who have abandonment wounds.

A childhood neglect wound results from a parent neglecting their child’s needs.  The neglect can be as obvious as not providing the child with food or medical care, or it can be less obvious such as a parent regularly not caring that their child is upset.  This type of childhood wound manifests as low self esteem or even self hatred, a lack of boundaries, being quick to anger, & repressing emotions.  People who are attracted to someone with a neglect wound are the type who don’t appreciate them & often even make them feel invisible.

A shame wound is very common among those who have experienced childhood narcissistic abuse.  Narcissists use shame as a weapon because it is so incredibly effective.  Where guilt makes a person feel as if they have done something wrong, shame makes a person feel as if they are wrong bad or incredibly broken for doing whatever they did.  Shame damages or even annihilates self esteem.  A person with very low or non-existent self esteem is easily controlled & manipulated, because they lake faith in their decision making abilities & intelligence.  They look to others because they feel so ill equipped.  This wound manifests as an intense disdain for asking for help or for things, feeling bad or flawed, & lacking boundaries.  Narcissists are attracted to those who have shame wounds.

If any of these describe you, know that hope is not lost!  You can heal!  Now that you know the root of your problem, you can find the most effective means of healing.  It will take time & work, but you can heal!  I believe in you!

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Being The Family Scapegoat

Being the scapegoat in a narcissistic family is an incredibly difficult & painful role. 

Naturally it starts with the abuse from a narcissistic parent, usually an overt one.  This parent is quick with a cruel word, invalidation, mocking or even fury.  This parent may even say they treat their child as they do out of love or they blame their child for making them treat the child as they do.

The other parent is often a covert narcissist.  Compared to the raging, screaming & berating of the overt narcissistic parent, the covert narcissistic parent seems safe & possibly even loving.  Eventually though, that mask slips.  It usually happens as the child is growing up & starting to want some independence.  Covert narcissistic parents also often confide in their children about very inappropriate topics, such as their marital problems.  Overts do this too, but coverts seem to do it more often.  That parent may tell that child that they need protection from the overt narcissistic parent rather than protecting their child, as a functional parent would do. 

Eventually, this child realizes something is wrong with their parents’ behavior.  Maybe they learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or maybe not yet.  Either way, the child starts to set boundaries with their parents for the first time in their life.  This is where the real trouble often begins.

Aside from the obvious horrors of the abuse from their narcissistic parents, they suddenly are faced with even more horrors.  Many reach out to other family members for help, & rather than get the help they need, are shunned, mocked, called awful names like liars, spoiled brats, drama queens or kings, ungrateful & more.  Those who the child expects to help & support them often end up betraying that child & adding more pain.

When narcissistic parents find out their child has revealed the kind of parent they are, they usually release some sort of smear campaign.  Some insult their child, others accuse their child of being mentally ill or addicted to drugs.  Some opt to do the same but from a position of looking concerned.  They may say things like, “I’m worried about her.  She hasn’t been the same since she started hanging around with that guy.  I think he’s making her say these things about me, or maybe she’s on drugs!”  This is even worse, because it makes the child look bad while making the parent appear loving & concerned.  Either way, this child loses loved ones & feels completely alone.

The life of a scapegoat is incredibly hard!  Yet even so, there is hope!

After surviving such horrors, a person develops the ability to handle stress well.  Compared to narcissistic abuse, most crises seem pretty tame. 

After losing friends & family who believe a narcissistic parent’s lies, a person becomes very independent & self-reliant.  In this situation when you are left alone, you can learn you have skills & abilities that you never realized you had.

Losing people in one’s life often makes people turn to God, & that is never a bad thing!  That is the one relationship that will never disappoint or hurt you.  He also can help you to heal from all the damage done by the abusive people in your life.  And, as an added bonus, He can guide the right people into your life.    

If you’re the scapegoat in your narcissistic family, if you recently have been abandoned by foolish people who chose to side with your parents rather than help or support you, then please know it will get better!  You will find new, good, loving people who would never treat you as badly as your family has & who will love you unconditionally.  You will survive this pain & heal.  One day you will look back at all that has happened in your role as your family’s scapegoat & be shocked at how much happier & healthier you are without these people in your life.

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A Common Sign Of Narcissistic Abuse: Isolation

One very common sign of narcissism in adults is isolating their victims. 

Narcissistic parents can come across as over protective.  The truth though is that many forbid their children to spend time with or even speak to other people, even people within their own family.  If the children disobey, they are severely punished.  My mother raged terribly when I spent time with my now ex husband when we were in high school.  She also kept me close to her side when we visited family, not allowing me much time alone with my cousins or grandparents.

When children of narcissistic parents grow up, their parents often do their best to start trouble in their child’s friendships & even their marriage.  They often treat friends as if they are unworthy to speak to.  Some narcissistic parents tell their adult children outright that their spouse isn’t good enough while others demonstrate this is how they feel without saying the words by behaviors such as refusing to acknowledge the spouse’s birthday.  Other narcissistic parents will outright lie to their adult child about the spouse, such as claiming that spouse has been unfaithful or abuses their children.  From my observations, the majority of narcissistic parents do as my in-laws have done, & treat the spouse poorly behind the adult child’s back yet are nice to the spouse only when the adult child is around.  By doing this, when the spouse complains, the adult child doesn’t believe them because they only saw their parent being nice to them.  This causes a great deal of friction in a marriage & many marriages fail because of this behavior.  That of course is the goal.

While some use obviously controlling behaviors such as threats, most narcissistic spouses are more subtle in how they isolate their victims.  They plant seeds of doubt in their spouse’s minds about people they want out of their spouse’s life.  My ex husband told me my best friend wasn’t a good friend to me & didn’t really care about me.  He said the same about my wonderful grandparents.  He obviously disapproved of me having people in my life who could see through his toxic behavior.  My best friend & I went our separate ways for years & I stepped out of my grandparents’ life for years too because of him.  On a side note, I’m happy to say he is out of my life, & my best friend is back in it.  My grandmother died not long after I left my grandparents’ life, unfortunately.  I did reconnect with my grandfather though & had 3 good years with him before he passed away.

The reason narcissists isolate their victims is because an isolated victim is easy to control.  Isolated people don’t have good people in their lives who will tell them that the way they are being treated is wrong, they deserve better or that they don’t have to tolerate such behavior which means they’ll tolerate the abuse.  They don’t have good people who will help them to escape the abuse or to help them heal which often leaves them in the position of feeling that they have no way to escape.  Without such good people in a person’s life, it can be very easy to accept abuse.  A person often even loses the desire to leave the abusive relationship, because they are so beaten down by their abuser either physically or emotionally or both. 

If this describes your situation, know that you are NOT alone!  I would dare say almost every victim of narcissistic abuse has been in this situation.  Don’t let that be a reason to stay in the situation though.  Reach out however you can.  Online forums are a great way to meet others who understand.  I have a Facebook group full of caring, understanding & supportive people.  There are many others as well, & not just on Facebook. 

If the narcissist monitors your online activities, then talk to someone else, such as your doctor or pastor.  Call a crisis hotline, preferably a domestic violence one.  They should be able to help or at the very least point you in the direction of help available to you in your area either to help you escape the narcissist or at least find safe people to talk to.  Isolation is a form of abuse, & you deserve better than to be abused!

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When Children Aren’t Allowed To Say No

Narcissistic parents are notorious for not allowing their children to have any boundaries.  They have no problem going through their children’s personal belongings or even breaking or getting rid of things their child uses or loves.  Children are allowed no privacy, & some narcissistic parents go as far as removing their bedroom doors.  Possibly the worst thing narcissistic parents do is refusing to allow their children to say “no”.

Narcissistic parents are too self centered to realize or even care that by not allowing their children to say no, they are teaching their children some pretty terrible lessons.  When children learn that saying no is bad & not allowed, this teaches them that others can treat them however they wish.  This opens the door for other wicked people to abuse these children.  It also sets these children up for a life of misery because they don’t believe they have the right to say no to anyone, no matter what.  They also believe that they have to say yes to everyone & everything, & that obviously is a huge problem!

Children need to feel safe knowing that there won’t be any repercussions if they say things like, “No”, “Stop doing that,” “Don’t touch me”, “That hurts”, “I don’t agree with you” & “I won’t do that.” 

When a child doesn’t experience this ability to set reasonable boundaries, they can turn very submissive.  Their boundaries become very blurred.  They change their likes, dislikes, views, etc. depending on the company they keep.  They lose their individuality.  They do above & beyond what is reasonable for other people, even to the point of enabling terrible behavior.  They tolerate way too much, including abusive behavior, because they don’t believe they have the right to do otherwise.

When a person grows up not allowed to say no, the fear of what could happen can become paralyzing, & they literally can’t say the word no.  This fear happens because of many possible reasons.  Some of those reasons might be the fear of hurting other people’s feelings, fear of someone’s anger, fear of being punished, fear of abandonment or the fear of being seen as selfish, bad or even ungodly.  This fear also can happen because a person is too hard on themselves, & if they say no, they judge themselves very harshly.  They condemn themselves as horrible people, so they don’t say no in order to avoid feeling that way.

If you recognize this as your behavior, you’re not alone.  This is so common among children of narcissistic parents.  The good news though is that you can make healthy changes.

I always recommend starting with prayer in any situation, & this one is no different.  Asking God for help is never a mistake.  Also ask Him to show you the truth about where you end & others begin, what you should & shouldn’t tolerate, how to start setting healthy boundaries & anything else you need help with.

Also start paying attention to how you feel.  Does it bother you when someone expects something from you?  Why does it bother you?  If it feels unfair since they don’t ask others to do as much as you or they want you to do something they could do themselves, that is very reasonable!

Start small!  Start by not answering your phone if you don’t want to talk to the person calling or something like that.  The more you gain confidence in smaller boundaries, the more it will help you to go on to bigger ones.

Know people are going to be upset with you for your new boundaries.  Rather than being hurt by this, think of it this way.  Safe, good people will be happy for you & encourage you.  Only toxic people are offended by reasonable boundaries.  Seeing toxic people for who they are may be painful, but it’s also a good thing.  It shows you who you need to remove from your life.  And, removing them allows more time & energy for those who truly deserve that from you.

Having good boundaries won’t happen over night, but it will happen.  Just stay with it!  You can do this!

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Shame Over Past Behavior In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Victims of narcissist abuse are no strangers to shame.  Narcissists use it as a weapon very simply because it is such an effective weapon.  A person who feels tremendous shame is very easy to manipulate because they believe they are flawed, stupid, awful, selfish & more beyond repair, so they must listen to someone who isn’t a terrible person like they are.  It’s just common sense that someone out to manipulate & control another person would be thrilled with a victim who thinks this way.

Even when an abuse victim realizes this, that doesn’t make the shame go away.  That shame can hang around for a long time.  Thankfully, much of the shame instilled in victims by the narcissists in their lives diminishes & even disappears fairly fast when they realize that what they feel & believe was deliberately put their by a narcissist.  Other shame however tends to hang around way too long!  That is the shame we will address today.

Victims of narcissistic abuse often feel intense shame about their behavior when they were in a relationship with a narcissist.  I truly understand this since I have experienced the same myself.  In fact, my behavior made me wonder if I was a narcissist since I did some of the same things.  The truth however is no, I am not nor was I a narcissist.  And, if you have similar feelings, I’m sure you aren’t either.

Victims of narcissistic abuse must lie when in relationship with a narcissist.  One key to surviving a narcissistic relationship is to please the narcissist at all times.  Obviously common sense says no one can please any person at all times, in particular someone who is notoriously impossible to please.  However, in the midst of the relationship, that isn’t common sense.  Victims are conditioned to think they must please the narcissist & not doing so is a huge flaw on their part, deserving whatever abuse the narcissist wishes to dish out.  Rather than face that abuse, victims often lie.  It’s a survival skill.  Unfortunately this survival skill can come with a lot of shame attached after the relationship is over.  Instead, try extending mercy & understanding to yourself because it was a necessary evil at the time.

Manipulation is bad, there is no disputing that.  Yet like lying, it too is a necessary evil when in the throes of a relationship with a narcissist.  Anything to please the narcissist is what is important & if that requires manipulation, so be it.  Once the relationship is over, however, looking back on being manipulative in any capacity is shame inducing.  It even can make a person wonder if they are a narcissist as well.  If you are wondering the same, no you are not!!  The fact you wonder & are willing to research it to find out says you aren’t a narcissist.  They don’t do self reflection, & if they somehow stumble upon something stating anything negative about them, they reject it immediately.  So no, you aren’t a narcissist.  You are someone who did something that narcissists do but you only did so in order to survive a toxic environment.

Maybe you were married to a narcissist & did things sexually you aren’t proud of having done.  Again, you did this as a way to survive.  That doesn’t make you a bad person!

If you have experienced such things then please keep in mind although you feel ashamed of what you have done in the past, you aren’t a narcissist nor are you a bad person.  You did what you needed to do at the time to survive.  That is all.  If you had been in a normal relationship, you wouldn’t have done such things.  It’s ok to release that shame about your former behavior!  When you struggle with this, ask God to help you.  He will so let Him do it!  You don’t deserve to live under such a dark cloud of shame!

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Encouragement For Those Who Went No Contact With Their Narcissistic Parents

I don’t know how many nasty comments I have heard people say when it comes to severing ties with narcissistic parents.  I’ve heard no contact with a narcissistic parent is taking the easy way out.  Relationships take work, & walking away is cowardly & lazy.  Blood is thicker than water, so just put up with whatever they do.  Every time I hear this sort of nonsense, I just want to scream.

If someone has told you something similar, I want to encourage you today to ignore their idiocy!  Rather than feel badly for severing ties with your abusive parents, consider some points…

Most of us who have gone no contact agonized over the decision for a long time.  It wasn’t done thoughtlessly.  Quite the opposite!  It took me at least a couple of years before going no contact.

A lot of pain & suffering led up to the decision to go no contact.  Years upon years of abuse led to it.  This decision wasn’t reached because of one small disagreement!  It was reached only after suffering years of constant emotional & mental abuse.  Often other forms of abuse were present as well such as spiritual, physical, sexual & financial.  There is absolutely NO reason to tolerate that from anyone!  It’s only right to protect yourself!

No contact isn’t easy.  Not only the decision to sever ties with a parent.  The aftermath can be incredibly difficult. 

Many narcissists engage in horrific smear campaigns that turn a person’s entire family & many friends against them.  So many people who go no contact with their narcissistic parents lose any family they have as well, because the family blindly sides with the narcissist.  The ones who go no contact are labeled as selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, evil, un-Godly & more.  This happened to me, & I can tell you that it is incredibly painful when people you think care about you turn on you & side with the people who have caused you such intense pain. 

Other narcissists refuse to take no contact as an answer.  They harass & stalk their victims mercilessly.  They show up places where the victim frequents often.  They inundate their victim with constant phone calls, voicemail messages, text messages, emails & social media messages.  The sheer volume can be utterly staggering!  And, they will have others harass you too.  I have been in this situation & I really can’t describe how terrifying it is.  To think that someone has the ability to manipulate others into harassing you & can devote so much time to harassing you makes you wonder what else exactly are they capable of doing?  It’s also terrifying when you block one means of accessing you they have then suddenly they show up via another means.  One of my abusers was so vicious that I blocked her access to my website, because she began contacting me through it after I’d blocked her ip address by usingother computers.  One of her messages simply said “boo!”  To me, that clearly was her way of saying, “You can’t stop me!”  So disturbing!

Even if you are fortunate enough not to experience those scenarios, that doesn’t mean no contact is easy.  Once you’re away from the constant abuse, you’d think you could relax & begin to enjoy life, but that doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes, once your brain realizes it can stop functioning in survival mode, it seems to want to force you to face all of the problems that were on the back burner because you had to focus on survival.  That can be very overwhelming at first, & it takes time to make your mind behave in a more manageable way.

There is also a grief process that happens after no contact with narcissistic parents.  You grieve the parents you never had but wanted.  You grieve your stolen childhood.  You grieve the family & friends you lost only because you were trying to protect yourself.  You realize your parents & family never loved you, & grieve that loss. 

No contact isn’t easy by any means.  To follow through with it takes an incredible amount of courage & strength.  Never, ever let anyone make you feel as if something is wrong with you for severing ties with your narcissistic parents.  Instead be proud of yourself  because you had the fortitude to do one of the most difficult things a person can do!

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Losing A Narcissistic Parent

When someone’s parent dies, if they had a good relationship with that parent, or at least the relationship looked good to outsiders, chances are good they will get plenty of support.  People will tell them how sorry they were for their loss, bake casseroles & say things like, “If there’s anything I can do, call me.” 

When a narcissistic parent dies, however, the scenario is much different.  The usual signs of support & love aren’t common.  Quite the opposite in many cases.  Often, flying monkeys come out of the woodwork to shame the adult child at this time for being such a terrible son or daughter.  To add insult to injury, people often don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a narcissistic parent.  They seem to think since the adult child wasn’t close to the parent or maybe hadn’t even seen them in quite some time prior to their death, their death doesn’t affect the adult child at all.  They may say a brief, “sorry to hear about your parent” & then act as if nothing has happened. 

When my parents died, this was my experience. My father died in October, 2017, & I hadn’t spoken to my father in several months, then almost eighteen months later when my mother died, we hadn’t spoken in almost exactly three years.  My father was the first of my parents to die.  His death was surrounded by flying monkey attacks.  They happened frequently for a few months prior to his death, then daily for his final three weeks.  When my mother died, it also was an incredibly hard time for me.  Thankfully there weren’t many flying monkey attacks, but it was still very difficult.  The circumstances surrounding her death & her final few months were tragic, leaving me feeling incredibly guilty for being no contact when she clearly needed help.

The scenarios I described earlier is exactly how things worked for my husband & I.  When his parents were getting sicker & frailer, he spent a lot of time with them.  He was the only one to take them to the hospital & help them out when no one else would.  People showered him with concern & love when they passed away.  My husband got through the situation quite well, keeping to himself as is his nature, but no doubt several folks would have been more than happy to listen if he wanted to talk or if he’d needed help. When my parents died, things were very different. Those closest to me were very supportive but those not as close to me weren’t.  It was clear they didn’t know what to say or do, so in most cases, they said & did nothing, even acting as if nothing unusual had happened in my life.

Since so many of you who follow my work are in positions more like mine, & you are on my heart to talk to today.

When your narcissistic parent dies, it’s going to be hard.  The lack of support & understanding from those in your life may make it harder.  And, it really hurts!

I learned something.  It’s perfectly normal to feel as I did.  If you feel the same way, you’re ok!

For one thing, it’s a shock.  Narcissistic parents seem to take up all the space in the relationship.  They can feel bigger than life.  That means it’s impossible to imagine life without them.  It even can feel like them dying is impossible – they’ll always be there.  The fact they aren’t anymore is a strange & difficult thing to face.

There’s also the fact that losing a parent is different than losing anyone else.  You never lived one single day without your parent.  You may not have seen them daily or called often, but even so, the only world you know involved your parents being in it.  They were always a part of your reality.  That alone makes it seem impossible to make sense of a world without them. 

Lastly, whatever the relationship, if you’re drastically affected by your parent’s death it’s because you loved your parent.  That is totally normal.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That is just as normal as feeling virtually nothing when your narcissistic parent dies because you grieved them enough when they were alive. 

Losing a narcissistic parent is a very strange thing to face.  Don’t judge yourself for how you feel about it.  Just focus on taking care of yourself, & grieving however you need to.

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Why Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse Often Hate Themselves

Relatively speaking, very few victims of narcissistic abuse escape the abuse without feeling intense self-hatred.  There are plenty of reasons for this.

The main reason for this of course is narcissists.  They do their best to annihilate their victims’ self-esteem in order to control them.  A person who doubts their intelligence will listen to what others tell them to do.  A person who thinks no one else would put up with them will stay in a relationship, no matter how toxic.  A person who feels worthless will tolerate any treatment because they don’t believe they deserve better.  But, there are other reasons too.

Someone who was involved in either a romantic relationship or a friendship with a narcissist will feel terrible for not seeing the red flags of narcissism or taking too long to leave or for putting up with the abuse for however long they did.  Even understanding that narcissists are phenomenal actors that can fool anyone doesn’t really help a person in this situation feel much better. 

Also, other people who weren’t directly involved with the abuse even can make victims hate themselves.

People who imply or even outright say that the victim is to blame for the abuse can make victims hate themselves.  When you are in the fragile place of recently having escaped an abusive relationship, someone blaming you for picking the wrong partner or friend or for making the abuser abuse you can be devastating.  It makes a person wonder what they possibly could have done any better or differently.  In these relationships, victims give their all & it’s not good enough, yet they still feel like failures for not doing enough. 

It’s also common to feel guilty for constantly upsetting the narcissist to the point of abusing because that is how narcissists make their victims feel.  They never take responsibility for anything but instead, dump all responsibility on their victims.  Having survived this then being reminded of your supposed failures with the relationship by outsiders can be utterly devastating to one’s emotions as well as self esteem.

When other people suggest something is wrong with the victim for not being “over it” by now or taking too long to heal, that too can cause self-hatred.  It makes a person feel like a burden for not being ok rather than safe knowing they are with someone who won’t judge or criticize them.  And feeling like a burden is horrible for the self-esteem!

The minimization & even denial of the abuse also can cause serious blows to one’s self-esteem.  Until a person truly understands just how bad their experience was with an abusive narcissist, they are very susceptible to shaming.  When someone says the abuse wasn’t that bad or flatly denies it happened, that will create unnecessary shame in a victim which naturally devastates their self-esteem.

If you are experiencing self-hatred due to situations like I’ve mentioned, please, PLEASE know this isn’t right!  You don’t deserve to feel that way!  You weren’t abused because there is something wrong with you.  There was something wrong with the narcissist!  If other people are too foolish to see it or unwilling to see it, that is also not a reflection of you.  That is their dysfunction showing.  Don’t ever forget that!  Xoxo

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Authoritarian Parents

Many narcissistic parents fall into the category of being authoritarian parents.  In other words, they demand strict obedience to their authority from their children.

Authoritarian parents accept no excuses for disobedience.  Their children are to ignore anything that might go against obeying their parents.  If the parent wants their child to do something, it doesn’t matter if that child is sick or otherwise physically unable to do that task.  The child must do it or face serious consequences for their perceived disobedience.

They also do not have any interest in their children’s feelings or needs.  So what if the child wants to join the drama club in school?  The authoritarian parent wants that child to play football.  This means that child will be playing football, & not be allowed to participate in the drama club.

As children of authoritarian parents get older & want to begin dating, this is a real problem for these parents.  A boyfriend or girlfriend could interfere with the control the parent has over the child.  I experienced this myself.  When I told my mother I’d asked a boy to a school dance, she told me no man would ever want me because I was so pushy.  A few years later when I wanted to date, she would rage at me daily for this, calling me terrible names, accusing me of terrible things I hadn’t done & telling me how awful he was even though she knew nothing about him at that time.  This is pretty typical behavior of authoritarian parents in this situation.

They also want their children to remain children indefinitely.  While their bodies don’t stop maturing, they hope to stunt the growth of their minds.  This happens by various devious means, such as treating the child as if she or he is incapable of doing things to the parent must do them instead, talking to the child as if he or she is much younger & reminding the child of all of the things the parent has done for that child because the child couldn’t do those things.

Growing up in this way is obviously very damaging to a child.  Children of authoritarian parents don’t have a balanced view of authority.  How could they considering they grew up with the main authority figure in their life being so demanding & cruel?

Some children grow up & rebel against any authority.  They don’t tolerate anyone telling them what to do & sometimes even asking them to do things.  Often someone like this is a spouse that is incredibly procrastinating of things their spouse nicely asks them to do.  These people became fed up with being ordered about, & are simply done with it.  Any hint of someone else bossing them around & they shut down.  They may exhibit passive/aggressive behaviors to avoid doing what they are told, such as doing the task badly or doing it only on their schedule, ignoring when the task needs to be done.

Many children go in the exact opposite direction, & become very submissive.  Nothing is too much to ask of this person.  There isn’t even a need to ask nicely.  That person is always willing to do as told, no matter who is telling them to do what.  They can become extreme people pleasers.  It is likely that eventually as an adult, this child will become fed up with being such a people pleaser.  Sometimes they even go too far in the opposite direction for a while, refusing to do anything they are told to do or getting disproportionately angry when someone asks them to do something.  That behavior often doesn’t last terribly long though & they become more balanced in time.

If this post describes you, then please know you’re not alone & all is not lost!  Ask God to help you however you need.  Consider the authority figures in your life from an objective & logical point of view.  Are you respecting their authority or not?  If you give in too much, how can you set healthy boundaries with people?  If someone asks you to do something & your natural reaction is to rebel, how can you improve your attitude?  Study boundaries, too.  Learning more about where you end & others begin can be very helpful in learning balance in this area.

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Abusers Warp Victims’ Perceptions Of Abuse

When a person has been abused chronically in their childhood, naturally they grow up different than the average person.  One difference is they grow up with a very different perception of abuse over the average person.

When parents abuse a child, that child assumes abuse equals love.  Children seem to be unable to comprehend that their parent doesn’t love them, so instead they naturally equate abuse with love.  They excuse & white wash abusive acts or even subconsciously repress the memories of these acts.  Unfortunately these behaviors that help these children survive at the time also cause major problems later in life.

As this child grows up, they often end up in abusive relationships with friends & romantic partners.  This happens because they assume when someone is abusive, it means that person loves them.  The red flags at the beginning of the relationship that would cause most people to walk away from the relationship go unnoticed or are excused away by the adult abused child.  They try harder to please the unpleasable abuser.  This makes the abuser more & more demanding, because abusers enjoy watching their victims jump through hoops trying everything to please them.  The victim keeps trying, & the miserable cycle continues.

 As if this isn’t enough, abusers also encourage victims to white wash or even forget that they have abused their victim.   If an abuser can get a victim to excuse the abuser or even forget it ever happened, they can continue to abuse their victim.  If a victim can believe that this is the first time something has happened, they will tolerate more of it than if they realize this is the umpteenth time that has happened.  They simply continue the relationship as if no abuse happened.

This warped perception of abuse also raises the victim’s tolerance for abuse, because they become desensitized to it.  Their abusers have convinced them that the abuse is no big deal, they are just being too sensitive or everyone acts this way, or the victim is stupid for not realizing that this is normal behavior.  Victims assume what their abusers told them is true, so they tolerate the abuse.

Abusers use some other tactics to warp their victim’s views of abuse.  Love bombing is a very common tactic abusers use, in particular among romantic partners.  They shower their victims with romance, gifts, complements & other loving gestures.  Love bombing also can happen with friends or family, though.  They show their victims love, respect, gentleness & even kind words.  The idea is that these gestures will make the victim focus on them & less on the horrific acts the abuser perpetrated on them.  Often though the encouragement takes the form of gaslighting.  Abusers shame their victims for bringing up abusive episodes by saying things like, “You need to let that go,”  “You’re living in the past,” “You’re too sensitive!” or,  “I don’t see what the big deal is.”  They also may attack your religious beliefs by saying things like,  “You say you’re a Christian.  You need to forgive & forget,”  or, “You aren’t honoring me as your parent by acting that way.  The Bible says you should honor me.”

If you have experienced such things, you’re not alone!  Almost every victim of abuse has experienced them to some degree.

To cope, as always I recommend praying as the best place to start.  Ask God to help you have clarity & discernment, & to identify the truth over the lies.

I found a very difficult but incredibly effective way to help me in this area.  I wrote my autobiography.  I’m not saying you need to write yours & publish it as I did of course, but at least consider writing it.  There is something about seeing your story in writing that is incredibly validating!  It helps you see your story from a different angle, & it makes it more real somehow.  Like I said, it’s difficult, but it’s very well worth doing considering how much healing it can bring.

 

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My Newest Mini Book & Crochet Pattern Are Available

One question I have been asked with disturbing regularity over the years is “How can I honor my narcissistic parent?” I decided to write my newest mini book, “How To Honor Abusive Parents” to answer that question. It includes practical advice as well as plenty of Scripture to help the reader understand what it truly means to honor parents, even abusive ones. The ebook can be found here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1133395

And, because thinking about issues like Narcissistic Personality Disorder all the time is unhealthy, I also took some down time & created a new crochet pattern. It’s a scarf made from a pattern that resembles kittens. It works up fast & is super cute, if I can brag a little. That pattern ebook can be found here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1129714

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20% Off ALL Print Books!

My publisher turns 20 this year, & as a way to celebrate, they’re offering 20% off print book purchases until February 11, 2022. All you have to do to take advantage is use code 20FOR20 at checkout.

My books can be found at this link:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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A Little About Hatred After Abuse

Many people believe that hate is a terrible thing & to be avoided at all costs.  Of course it’s true that hatred can lead to some pretty terrible things such as causing others physical & emotional pain, prejudices or criminal behavior, even murder.

However, hate also can have some good purposes when it is used correctly.

Hate can be a great motivator for change.  Consider a person who has been seriously injured & has a long road ahead of them if they want to recover fully.  They have two choices – do nothing to help themselves heal & live with a permanent problem or work hard to recover.  A person who hates living with the problem will do whatever they have to in order to recover.

On a larger scale, if enough people hate a certain act, they can make changes in their community or even country.  So many parents of murdered children have worked hard to create new laws designed to help the police find people who commit these heinous acts, to punish them & to protect children.  Others have created organizations to help find missing children or organizations that support the parents & families of murdered children.  John Walsh is a great example.  After his son Adam was kidnapped & murdered in 1981, he went on to do great things for missing children.  He helped to change laws to protect children & also created the famous television show “America’s Most Wanted” as a way to help put criminals in jail.  His hatred for what was done to his little boy motivated them to do great things.

Yet in spite of this, it seems so many people see only the bad side of hatred.  Many even claim that there is no place for it in a Christian’s life, & shame them for feeling it.  They are wrong.  No, you shouldn’t hate other people but you can hate evil things, such as abuse.  Romans 12:9 in the Amplified Bible says, Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good.”  This verse tells me that hatred can have a place, & that place is hating what is evil. 

Think about this in terms of abuse… if you were abused, you hate that, right?  I’m not saying you hate the person who abused you, but you do hate what they did to you.  That hatred helps you to have healthy boundaries with your abuser such as keeping that person at arm’s length or having no relationship with them at all, & protecting your children or other loved ones from the abuser.  You also have learned the red flags of abusive personalities & avoid people who show them.  Maybe you even work on educating others the things you have learned.  These are all very good things, & that can’t be denied!

Then consider those who don’t hate abuse, such as narcissists & their devoted flying monkeys.  Narcissists cause so much pain & suffering, yet their flying monkeys don’t hate that at all.  In fact, they have no problems with it.  They even encourage victims to tolerate the abuse without complaint.  The things flying monkeys seem to hate are victims setting boundaries with the narcissist & refusing to tolerate the abuse.  That is disturbing & sickening, not to mention, the complete opposite of what they should feel in the situation.

While hate is a strong emotion that certainly can have very negative consequences, it also can have good consequences when used correctly.  It’s a good idea to explore your feelings when you feel hate inside.  If you feel hatred for a situation or how someone has treated you, use that feeling to motivate you to make healthy changes in your life. 

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Being The Opposite Of Narcissistic Parents

I was in my late teens when I realized I wanted to be nothing like my parents.  My now ex husband & I started dating around the time I turned 17, & oddly, although he too was a narcissist, he also was the one who helped me realize my mother wasn’t as normal as I thought she was. 

During that awful time, my mother’s abuse hit its peak because I was disobeying her by dating my ex. I realized something.  I realized I wanted to be nothing like her.  I suffered a great deal at her hand & also saw how wrong some of her actions & beliefs were.  I remember thinking that being her complete opposite would be a good thing, & I strived for that.

I later realized that was wrong.

Obviously being like a narcissist is a bad thing.  So much of their behavior is utterly toxic & just terrible at best.  But, there may be things to learn from a narcissistic parent beyond how not to behave.

My mother taught me to crochet when I was five years old.  Now?  It’s forty-five years later at the time I’m writing this, & I still crochet.  I even have created some of my own patterns.  Crocheting is one of my favorite hobbies.

My father taught me about cars during my entire growing up life.  I now know plenty about car maintenance, diagnosing problems, how to fix problems, the year/make/model of many of the old cars that he & I both loved & more.

Both of my parents were also avid readers.  They instilled a love of & respect for books in me that is still there.  In spite of losing the ability for years to read much thanks to a brain injury & C-PTSD, I never lost that love of books.

After my parents died, I was responsible for dealing with their estate matters.  It was totally unexpected & shocking to say the least, but I did it, I’m proud to say.  In that process, I learned how good my mother was with money.  While I tend to be a bit more adventurous than her as far as investing, her experiences gave me excellent insight into how to manage money well.  I also learned some about my father.  I learned some personal things I never knew before, that I was shocked by.  Accolades at work, for example.  He was a master machinist at the Naval Academy here in Annapolis, MD when I was born, & apparently was very good at what he did. 

I think it is only natural to want to be absolutely nothing like a narcissistic parent.  They cause so much pain & suffering in their children that can last a lifetime!  Who wants to be anything like someone who causes pain, let alone someone who causes pain & seems to enjoy it like narcissistic parents do?!  That being said though, going too far in the other direction may not always be a good idea.  My mother did this with her mother, who was the ignoring type of narcissistic mother, & became engulfing with me. Balance & wisdom in this area are key, I believe.

Rather than set out to be exactly the opposite, I suggest you consider things you learned from your narcissistic parent.  I know, there is a lot of negative & toxic things to wade through.  Sometimes, there is absolutely nothing positive to learn from narcissistic parents.  But, sometimes there are positive things to learn.  Did your narcissistic parent have a good work ethic?  Did this parent have some skill that you learned because they were interested in this skill?  Then enjoy those skills!  Use them however benefits you.  There is nothing wrong with that!  Doing so doesn’t mean you’re just like your narcissistic parent.  It simply means that you have the wisdom to learn & fit those skills into your life in a good way.

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